“A Wounded Healer”
I am not proposing for the teacher to abandon the desk, one of our seminal props of authority, on the first day of class. But what I am proposing is a step in the optimistic ideal of what can happen over time. Once we are fearless in allowing the teacher to become an equal part of the classroom (in a metaphorical sense); a friend, a confident, and a learner, we will begin to build classrooms that are vulnerable, open to authentic dialogue, and more responsive to student needs and real concerns. By teachers sharing stories, they are allowing their students to see the complexities of personhood. When the teacher becomes “the healer that is also wounded himself,” no student will feel the pressure that our current schooling model unintentionally establishes. Our most disengaged students will be able to relax a bit more in class, knowing that they have a teacher who isn’t simply there to listen to stories and offer one-sided responses.
What a new vision of the educational classroom that would be. A space where one is able to challenge the teacher, not because one wants to be an outlier or an outcast but because one genuinely feels comfortable in that space. A classroom where challenges, affirmations, and dialogue grow out of personal narratives. A classroom that, through the direction of a teacher’s humility, understands that each student brings a unique epistemology and that one person’s story is just as valid as the next. What a thought it would be if educators took a practical stand(point) in regards to the pedagogical ideal of what a “lead learner” philosophically entails.
Maybe our educational system is not prepared to reach that point yet. I do not know where teachers stand in regard to the thought of being more open and vulnerable with their students. I would hope that I would not even have to mention that divulging information is a matter of professional and mature discretion. So, do not take my opinion and argument to some extremist “what-if” reasoning that avoids the essence of the point.
The point is, that I have been standing in front of my class, staring down at 30 students as they eagerly anticipate the next sentence coming out my mouth. I have stood there, thinking about how incredible it would be if I told them how I actually felt, right at that moment. So now, I am left to ask myself what has stopped me? I came into education thinking that I could be a teacher who was bold enough to change things; the atmosphere, the aura, and the positive recollection of a class or a school. But after four years, these aims have become somewhat blurry. Teaching often leaves many depleted. I am left depleted but not defeated.
Just another classroom voice
You see, the burden of education weighs teachers down with administrative “red tape,” cover-your-ass duties that wisely take teachers so far away from the reasons why they became teachers in the first place. Teachers become teachers to teach. Somewhere along the road of teaching, we forget about this and are more concerned with the next lesson that meets ministry standards, rather than that next lesson that speaks to that one child that we originally wanted to aim for at the beginning of our careers. Sometimes I feel like I am at that place in my career now, and I have only been teaching for four years! It is scary to think about, even as I type these words.
Often, when I am in front of my classroom, I think again of why I became a teacher. I read words of inspiration the minute after I wake up. I think about the big reasons why I chose to venture down a path in education. And one of the reasons was to be able to connect to and learn from my students. The only way I am able to do this fully is if I allow myself to become the “wounded healer” inside my classroom and share my life with them as often as they share their life with me.
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